EP 279 – Young Yang – CEO Southeast Asia at ZA Tech – It’s Not Enough to Only Offer Technology

by | May 31, 2023

The Asia Tech Podcast had an informative conversation with Young Yang, the CEO, Southeast Asia Markets at ZA Tech.

Some of the topics that Young covered:

  • ZA Tech’s decision to expand to international markets outside of China post-IPO
  • The importance of productizing Zhong An’s technology
  • The power of the partnership with Softbank’s Vision Fund
  • Two-year productization cycles and ZA Tech‘s company culture
  • Social media marketing for the insurance industry
  • Being prudent and cautious in the application of LLMs

Some other titles we considered for this episode, but ultimately rejected:

  1. We Create Technology In a Different Way
  2. What If Money Is Not a Problem?
  3. Every Technology Should Fulfill a Specific Business Purpose
  4. Mindset Is the Most Difficult Thing to Change
  5. You Need to Make Fun Out of Challenges

This content is sponsored.

Read the best-effort transcript

Read the best-effort transcript below (This technology is still not as good as they say it is…):

Michael Waitze 0:09
Hi, this is Michael Waitze. And welcome back to the Asia Tech Podcast. We are joined today by Young Yang, the CEO for Southeast Asia at ZA Tech. It is so great to have you on the show. How are you doing today?

Young Yang 0:22
I’m doing great. Thank you very much, Michael. I’m a huge fan. And actually, I listen to all your podcast and I really enjoy it.

Michael Waitze 0:31
That’s really that’s really kind. So I wish people could see what I can see right now I can I see this double “Y”, “YY”. And it probably has so many different meanings. I can tell you what it means in Japanese. “Wai Wai “it means like, excited. Right? So getting excited. Wai Wai shiteru? It just means like being excited. Does this have any meaning to you?

Young Yang 0:52
Yeah, so actually, I have been struggling a little bit, you know, make my friends or partners. Life Easier to pronounce my name. Actually, my full name is Yong Yong. It’s a very typical, and a common Chinese name. Okay. Sometimes I feel some of my foreign parents call me yen, or some of them call me young. Yeah. So to simplify it, I prefer to let them call me why why I love it. But in Chinese culture is a different meaning of why why? In order to describe a scenario where people try to imagine we think of something that it’s unrealistic to achieve in our life. Oh, yeah, but I love but I love you know, our friends. My friends call me why why? Because that will be flat. The possibility that we can achieve something that you thought and we live take in the past?

Michael Waitze 1:43
Yeah, no, I love this concept of it’s an unrealistically expected great thing to do. Because maybe that’s maybe that was the goal, like I always say, right? So I do this Asia tech podcast. I’ve been doing it for years. Now, almost all of my guests are from Asia. And all of them have names that aren’t what are typically considered like typical western names. So a lot of the people in the show say to me, Oh, it’s okay. Just call me Harry, or just call me whatever. And I’m like, no, no, your parents gave you a name for a reason. And they thought about it. Right? And it would be really neat to like, ask mom and dad if they thought that at some point, somebody would call you WHY, WHY? And it would kind of spur you on to have these unrealistic expectations about yourself and then try to meet them. Do you know what I mean? That’s why I love names because they’re so important to me.

Young Yang 2:27
That’s right. I totally agree. There is a story behind it was name. Yeah. How many of you have that name? And about his background how to come from, like, myself in in China, it’s illegal to for the doctor to tell the gender of the kids for quite some time, even nowadays. Really? Right until they were born until they were born. Yeah, it’s a legal and so that’s why before I was born, my parents actually prepare prepared two names. One for girl one for boy. And so because you know, I was born in in winter, where, you know, in my hometown and part of China, it normally snow from October. So if I was a girl, they will call me young shear, which means no. Right? If to if it’s a boy, they will call me young, young, which means a son. Alright, so that’s, that’s a little bit myself.

Michael Waitze 3:21
But I think this is so interesting. And this is why I love like cultures where the writing is in characters, right? Because it’s has a pronunciation, but it also has a meaning, right? If you look at Michael, it’s just Michael, it has no other meaning except for the letters and the pronunciation that it has. Right.

Young Yang 3:36
But the character there is epic. There is

Michael Waitze 3:40
there might be but it’s, but it’s not a significant right is like a Chinese name where the parents actually choose the characters to because they have many choices for this right. And that’s why I think it’s so interesting. Anyway, I’m digress. That’s fine. So talk to me a little bit about your other background, your business background as well. I’m super curious.

Young Yang 3:57
Yeah, sure. I’ve been with za for five and a half years so far. Okay. And when I joined the company, and that was in China, Shanghai, we didn’t even have an entity or business overseas. Oh, well, because at the time, our grandparent company, which is joint online, PNC is only focused in China’s market as a pure digital insurance company. However, I think as other tech companies, or companies was attacked DNA, we are very agile and as sensitive to opportunities and dynamics around us. So when the company did the gross shows before the IPO, and when we talk with a lot of for insurance companies and find or asset management companies, we realize there is a huge opportunity overseas by applying the technologies were business model that we have done in China. So that was why read after the IPO in September 2017 for the ground and parent company, we decided, Okay, let’s go overseas, obviously, with different business models, and I can share with you more a little on. But before my career in the A, I spent another two years in another interest group in China as well. But before that, actually, I started my career as a software engineer in Paypal as a payment company for a couple of years. And then later on, joined a bank as a middle office. And then after that, after spending seven years in in payment, and a bank, I joined insurance industry. So I think up until now, I’ve been with insurance for the past eight years.

Michael Waitze 5:39
Where were you working for pay pal was that also in China was that in the United States?

Young Yang 5:45
That was in China. So I started to work for pay pal from 2007. That was a very interesting timing, because you know, at a time there are so I mean, Pay Pal was so aggressive to come to Chinese market and compete with a comes with our forums, the payments, I still remember when I joined PayPal, I mean, the parent company, eBay, just acquired H net, in China. And they were ready to get on a big fight was Ali Taobao at a time, right. And then later on, of course, Alibaba set up their auto pay and finance and we compete with them as as PayPal, what was it like for

Michael Waitze 6:25
you, living in China, but working for a super aggressive American company?

Young Yang 6:30
I will say, at least from my generation, my generation of graduates, it was an honor and a privilege to work for, you know, foreign companies, especially as a big foreign companies. Because normally, they will bring, you know, a different culture, and at a very different mindset of customer centric, and really applying technology into their daily business, and see how that can benefit their customers and themselves. And I have to say that they take good care of their employees. I had a very good time during.

Michael Waitze 7:09
So I didn’t realize this, but you said you Za, za tech made this decision to go international after the IPO. Right. But that was in 2017. You said yeah. And you also said that there were different business models that needed to be done outside of China, as opposed to inside? Can you just walk me through what some of those differences are?

Young Yang 7:26
Sure. So even for joint online VNC in China, if you talk about the story, how that this company was established, and then later on, what is the key competing edge of the company? We normally say we are a tech company, by chance, we see the insurance license, right? Okay. So if you look at the profile for the insurance company in China, actually, more than 50% of them are engineers, or software engineers. And when I look at, you know, the background of some of the key members, I realized, also 50% of them had no insurance back or joined the company. Interesting. Alright, so that’s how diversified, you know, the company culture is, and that becomes one of our key competitive advantage, because we always think differently. And he always, I will say, are a little bit faster than others. And we also trade technology in a different way. Right? We have to say that, you know, insurance businesses is quite capital happy. And you need to spend a lot of time communicating with government regulators. And there are limitations. Right? Yep. So that’s why when we look at overseas market, we realize a capital as well as relationship with government and regulators are not our advantage. Well, if we want to grow fast in overseas markets, we have, we have to do it in a capital light way, in a different way versus what we’re doing in China or even Hong Kong. And also, I think this mindset was agreed by all the shareholders immediately, if you look at, you know, some of our key shareholders, including Alibaba, Tencent, or later on Softbank, what they are specialized, is also consumer facing or technology. Yeah, right. We also believe that in order to expand the business overseas, across different continents, technology, as a less regulated business, is the best way to go. So that’s why I think, you know, we quickly formed that strategy. And then, you know, the company that I represent now as a tack is actually a joint venture between Softbank Vision Fund and the International which is the holding company in Hong Kong or overseas business group. We form an agreement with stopping a Vision Fund and as a JV and annotate The taxi business to different markets. From that I got it.

Michael Waitze 10:03
What’s it like working with the team at Softbank at the Vision Fund team, right? Because it’s a very interesting team. Yes.

Young Yang 10:11
Yeah. So, we had quite intense competitions with Softbank, I will say 2017, I will say, working with Softbank vision bonds, obviously, this is very rare for them in terms of setting up the JV with the partners from beginning because most of time they are specialized at, you know, investments, right? After some time of the establishment of the buffalo company, but from very beginning, they’re quite Affirmative, that they want to be part of this JV from the very beginning. And I will say, they trust us. So it’s very comfortable working with them. They know that on the other side, z A is more experience, add insurance, or InsurTech. Well, what they can bring on table is capital, and then network of other companies, right. So that is the way that how they let us run the business. Well, they help us introduced to different other partners or their portfolio companies to help us

Michael Waitze 11:15
help you execute. It’s just so interesting to watch the history of SoftBank read for people that have been watching what masayoshi son has done over the past, I don’t know now 30 years, right? With the initial with the initial investment in Yahoo in the United States, then taking the Yahoo brand back to Japan, and also some very strategic investments very early on into the tech scene in China. Just the knowledge and the expertise that they’ve gained, but also the connectivity that they have to the rest of the world must make it a really interesting way to work with them. Yeah.

Young Yang 11:45
Yeah. So I think even though compared with other portfolio companies, our size of business and valuation is much smaller at a moment. But we love talk about the Time Machine philosophy of Masan. And some of the interesting conversations that I had with other tech giants. By asking, What if money is not a problem, right? What do we do? Right? Obviously, it’s not true for most of the companies, and money’s not a problem. But we like the way the thoughts and find the right way. We’re on businesses like what do you want to do? And try to find the opportunities by comparing in a different markets across different stages? Actually, that is what we have done. When we come to, you know, Assassination markets, which have been market, we’re nowadays to Europe market.

Michael Waitze 12:41
Can you talk about some of the nuances and the differences between expanding into Southeast Asia expanding into Europe? And just some of the ways that you look at it as a firm? And how it’s different if you know what I mean?

Young Yang 12:52
Definitely, you know, to talk about this, maybe we can, you know, step back a little bit to talk about what is the major business overstay attack, so that it will, you know, give, give you more context, how we treat different market differently. Perfect. So essentially, what do we did, we took all the technologies that joint online, PNC use in China’s market, and productize it to make it ready to be offered to, you know, for insurance companies or partners. It’s not a typical way of doing things for a Chinese tech company, especially if you are doing this for b2b market, right? Normally, b2b market for Chinese companies is a question of chicken egg. Do you acquire the first climb first? Or do you do your own prioritization as most of the western companies do? Right, right. So we choose to do it differently. After looking at okay, what are some other b2b firms of China normally do that. So we choose to spend one when a happier is to prioritize our technology first, interesting to change the language to new layout, and then use a few short of a time to onboard our first clients. So if you know these, the tech is still published in q3 of 2018. Okay, but we start to we started to do our r&d from end of 2017. So, by the time when we set up this JV with Softbank, our privatization was almost done. And then after we signed the contract, the agreement with Softbank Vision Fund, we went to the market to Japan and to Singapore, and also some other markets. And after six months, we start to sign big contracts in Japan, in Singapore in Thailand, so that was that was that was quite fast. If you asked me what has been in reason, I will say when we went to the clients, we already have something to show Not only our stores in China, but something like okay, this is ready for single market. This is ready for Japan market. Right? And then when they see the actual product, they realize, okay, you are not bluffing, right? You’re not just selling some PPT slides. Actually, what I see is what I get, right? I

Michael Waitze 15:18
mean, Microsoft, you can I just interrupt you because Microsoft used to do this in the old days, right. And we call it vaporware. They would say we can do this and do that. And then they would get a client and they’d run away and try to build that thing that they said that they had. But that’s not what you did you productize it first. Can I Can I ask you this though? What is the difference in the prioritization that you have to do in Japan and Singapore than the products that already existed in China? If you know what I mean?

Young Yang 15:45
I will say that there are a lot and actually the the process of privatization never ends. No, it doesn’t. And we’re seeing that every one or two years, we need to go through this cycle of privatization, like big changes. And, and that also, thanks to how fast new technologies as introduced and get applied, you know, to the world nowadays. So the product is just the pace is getting faster and faster. That’s a that’s a challenge for us as a product company as well. So to answer your question, how to make it ready, in the beginning? Yeah. So we had this debate for quite some time, do we need to offer one product for Japan market? And one product for the market? Because different market is very different? Right? Yeah, we choose a more difficult path by offering the same product with different interfaces to the market. So even though I would Japan clients are looking at Japanese versions, and our Singapore markets, clients are looking at English versions, one of the back it’s the same. Okay, it’s the same version of application application was system. Well, what are the differences that we have done between the product data we were using in China, which is the product that we’re offering to overseas, right? So fundamental, fundamentally, it’s different proposition. For example, the the core system that we’re using in China is only was only for ourselves. Right? So you can go as agile as you need, and it’s very business driven. Alright. So the cycle is different, say, you know, from time to time, there’ll be new business models and new business expectations from the frontlines. And then as the tech, you know, as a tech team, their major focus is okay how that elaborative technology to fulfill that as its purpose, right, and that they will do that, and when they see, okay, such business requirements is getting more and more, then maybe after six months, or one year, they will go out and say, okay, now’s the time for me to consolidate, and then make it a sort of a stable product. Right? Instead of okay, I do this for the for this position, if I do that, then they will, they will sit down and try to consolidate? Well, we see, actually, when we start to, you know, take over the system, and try to productize it, we realize when we firstly apply that technology to overseas, maybe 60 or 70% of debt will not be used from day one. Because in other markets, you don’t have the same scale, right? You don’t have the same complications of insurance payments. How to decide, you know, which part to women, which want to remove in the very beginning, right. And it’s, it’s not only about functions, because when you deal with different scale businesses, or the end to end applications, the middleware is DevOps, even the cloud service, the setup will be different, because you don’t need that much. Right. So that was the debate. I will say, that was a debate that we had, you know, within the product team and a project team in between 2002 1018 and I was in now it’s a few ongoing. What is the internal

Michael Waitze 19:16
culture like, that allows this every two year cycle because it’s very, it’s a very aggressive cycle, right? Where this idea of like, innovation never ends, like you ship a product but it’s not then like you go on vacation, you ship a product, then you start thinking and working on what the next iteration is. What is the internal culture like that fosters the ability to do that?

Young Yang 19:38
Yeah, that’s a great question. And that’s a question that we keep asking ourselves, you know, what is our culture? Yeah, I will say, as a as a as a sauce tech company. Our culture is every technology should fulfill a specific business purpose. And as a company or as a team. We are Are technology driven? Right? Or we are engineering first? Culture? I will say for for most of the financial institutions, they will trilogy as an enabler. Yeah. So they will only go to technology when they need it. Right? We think differently, because our experience in China, where even now it is tell us technology, yes, it is the enabler. But it’s becoming more and more a driver of business growth, too. Yeah. So it’s not only enabler, so it will motivate you to think about your current business model or strategy. Like, if I have a technology like this, what should I do? Right? Or if I have a technology like this, what kind of computing edge I can have? Right? So that is our culture and our philosophy. And, you know, you asked why that we are having a very aggressive cycle of, you know, reinventing or privatization is also because of the emergence of new technologies. We have been seeing, you know, stories or solutions were the big, big giant, the tech giant, they fell, because at a certain point of time, they didn’t make the right decision to adopt the new technology. Yeah, they,

Michael Waitze 21:25
like I talked about this all the time, right? These big tech companies really run the risk of, you know, they have this gigantic business that that spins out a ton of money. Like even Google has this problem at some level, right? And 90, something percent of their revenue still comes from ads. So what’s the next thing that they’re going to build, it’s actually going to generate money. And that’s why I find it really interesting. You. You mentioned at the beginning of this conversation, that there are so many engineers at the firm. And it’s almost like there’s an engineering culture there, where the engineers are super happy. They don’t want to stop building a product. Do you know, I mean, we’re like the business people are they sign a contract like that business is done. But the engineering mindset says, we’ve built that that’s cool. But what’s the new thing now that we can build? That’s fun for us as well, but also helps build a business? Is that Is that fair?

Young Yang 22:12
Yeah, that’s a very fair, actually, I can I can, I can share with you a bit of interesting journey we had about this, quote, privatization, okay. Because if you don’t, if you don’t have such a journey, you cannot really call yourself as a SaaS company. Because SAS means you don’t do much customization. But you have to support all the business requirements, right? And how you can do that is by consolidating all the businesses, all the products in the market, and put it in your pocket, and to consolidate and standardize it, and offer to the market. Right. So in the beginning, I think we’re very clear, and our management is make a decision, okay, we don’t want to be outsourcing or project driven company, we have to be a product company, if we want to make our journey, sustainable enough. But we also need to be very transparent with ourselves. Which means before you have Enzo clients, now I really call your product a product, because it’s not tested. There’s not justified yet, right? By the markets by the businesses. So that’s why we said, okay, you know, for the first one, two years, we went as fast as possible, we need to fulfill all the customer requirements as much as possible. So the benefit get that gave to the companies is we can grow very, we can generate, you know, like one or 2% growth year on year or even 200% In the first three, three years, right. And we can fast expand our brand into different markets. The challenge this will bring to us is our product team didn’t have enough time to think and standardize all the modules, functions, and projects, right? And then you can see, if you don’t do the product at a point of two years, by time point, then very soon, when you have 3040 50 clients, you will, if you don’t do that at 20 of time, right? Very easily, you will run into a project based company. Yeah, exactly. Only two projects.

Michael Waitze 24:37
Yeah, exactly. This is what can I just interrupt you here? Because this is what makes it so interesting. I feel like I’ve learned something, this idea that like you’re not just an outsourcing company, we’re not just the back end of what you do. We are actually a product company. We’re building the product that then you go out and sell right and that makes it so much more interesting but also more sustainable in a way no, right. In other words, it’s a SASS company, but Let’s be clear about what SAS means software as a service. But in a way you could call it and I’m just making this up now a past company a product as a service, right? Because that’s what you’re building, you’re using software as a mechanism to build the product. Is that Is that fair?

Young Yang 25:15
Yep, that’s fair. And that’s kind of cool. We’ve experienced a pandemic. Yeah, we see that the digital economy also suffered a bit in the first half year of 2020. Okay, however, they turn around very quickly, and capture the opportunity to grow. We saw the same for digital insurance, as well. And we are blessed that we have spent some time to enhance our products by I would say, the second half of 2019, and the first half of 2020, right? We through that moment, okay, the whole world to couples. That was okay, now we have some time, you can sit down and think about it. And that made us realize, being a SaaS company, or be affirmative to your product is not only a tech problem, right? It’s a business decision, a very big business decision. Why is that? That is, after we see, you know, how good is how good was our product? After all the great job of the product team? We decided, okay, we should now bring all the clients back to the same product. Because you can imagine, after two years, a lot of project that we did, the actual system they’re using is actually different from the lifter product version that we offer, right? And we do. So we made it an effort from a commercial communication, and technical to convince every client to come back to our product baseline at how hard that was do the BeFree. Yeah, so first of all, from a mindset perspective, nobody believes that as a core system, there could be a sauce. Right? Especially when you are facing CTOs, they don’t live it. They don’t they don’t believe it, it’s

Michael Waitze 27:17
it actually runs against their nature, because they don’t want the SAS system to be the CTO wants to have more control. But at the end of the day, it actually does work. Sorry, go ahead.

Young Yang 27:26
Yeah. So I think mindset is the most difficult thing to change. Right? So we have to convince, okay, you know, what we show you, this is our latest product, you see, there are more superior functions, and what is the benefit that I can provide to you, it’s not only about bringing your version back to the product baseline. But whatever committing is, one, we will do this for free for you. Right, it won’t cost you a penny. The second is after this, you know, going forward, we will do the free upgrade on a quarterly basis for you. So whenever we adopt a new technology will, whenever we add a new functions with new capabilities, we offer that for free for you through this continuous upgrade. And then through this upgrade, you will see the economy of scale. Right? Because we’re continuously optimizing the usage of the cloud of the middlewares of the services provided by cloud. And for each upgrade, we’ll show you the cost savings. Right? And then this helps us to convince all the senior leadership’s of our insurance clients in the market. And then I will say after two years time, we’re proud to say that all the existing are at the same version, maybe there are some differences of desktop versions, but basically, in the big versions, they are all at the same

Michael Waitze 28:58
do your business partners cuz I don’t want to call them clients, right? Because it feels to me like there’s more of a partnership here than a client’s you know, service provider relationship that you have. But to your partners tell you like after you install this new software, you said every quarter, which is insane, it’s so fast. But did they tell you like from a business perspective, hey, you know what, we you install that new software, we have the newest version, and now our business is even better?

Young Yang 29:22
Yeah, definitely. So I can share with you two examples. One is, given that most of our business partners, they are more aggressive on digital businesses. And nowadays, digital businesses is not only about embed insurance, micro insurance, it’s about using digital ways to serve your clock, your consumers, your partners and even your teams, right. So the scope is becoming much bigger than when we first came to the market. And due to the nature of the business model, the data size, the volume is much higher than their traditional business, and then how to manage their data. How to To extract value from the data become a big problem for them. So that’s why early last year, we decided to build in a data lake and a BI solution within the core system. So interesting. So through that free upgrade, we offer that to our existing business partners. So their internal team can see, okay, this is the angle I want to see from the data, so that I can leverage for business purposes for internal control for risk management purposes, so they can configure Deb absolves and that really deliver value to the business team and into an operation team to bring them closer to the business to the consumers. So that they can make a decision quicker and better. And actually, they can put some of the insights as the real time to respond to the market to the consumers. So that is one example. Okay, a sec. A second example is, I think some of our early early stage business partners from 2020 2019. They are already at a stage of, okay, I’ve got a I’ve got enough customers through this embed insurance, and my two insurances, right? Now I need to decide what can I do with them. Because that follows the typical business logic of cross selling, right, and then by the policy, how I cross out how I create that context, and how that I can let their, you know, Agent team or someone else to do the cross selling, right. And then we introduce this boss concept, because our core system called graphene, and then we introduced this concept graphene plus, what does that plus means includes that a BI model, the data League, as well as a marketing to, that will plug in on top of that. So that tool through the free upgrade is offered to the clients, and they can use it to acquire customers to generate insights, and do marketing and marketing automations and also pass the lead intelligently to their agents to their internal team to follow up. So that’s another, I would say, area how, through this continuous upgrade, that we can offer additional values to our business partners.

Michael Waitze 32:24
It’s just so insane, because it’s more than just like an insurance back end, right? I feel like that’s, I don’t know, pick a number, but it’s almost like it’s, like 1/3 of the package, right? The core insurance stuff gets done. But this data and bi thing is super interesting, right? Because it’s integrated into the other products. So it’s not like a you don’t even it’s like a clip on it’s part of the product as well. And then it’s automated marketing to so you have like the whole full stack going there. I don’t know, it’s just such an interesting way to build the it sounds to me. Like the Tech is a super fun place to work, because it’s always doing things. The next thing is is that does that make sense? You know, I mean, is it a fun place to work?

Young Yang 33:07
At it’s just for me, I hope before you know moved on team members, it’s a fun place to work. But I always I was always amazed by whenever you see, okay, what company is named as the best places to work? I think, personally, that’s one talk that I want to achieve for our people as well. But I admit, I don’t think the job we’re doing is easy. It’s not easy at all. No way. It’s not easy. Yeah. So in order to make yourself enjoyable, you need to be able to make fun out of challenges. Yeah, I would say that’s one requirements for our team members, or any team members that septem with us after years.

Michael Waitze 33:49
I don’t know just sounds me like a super fun place to work. Is there? You talked about new technologies as well, right? Is there a social aspect to this? You talked about marketing, right? But how do you use like existing social tools like Twitter, and Facebook and all those other things as tools, and you integrate that into the main product so that your partners can then use it to facilitate them using these social products as well?

Young Yang 34:12
Absolutely. So actually, this comes to another principle where believe our, our, you know, business logic, because as a tech company, our belief is it’s not enough to only offer technology itself. So one gap that I we identified in the market when we start to apply this embed insurance micro insurance five years ago, was that after the company come up, was the right product. The way of providing that product to the market is limited. And insurance companies is not fully utilizing all the new media’s with social media channels. Yeah. So this was something that we try to add value as well on top of the marketing to that or provide Our marketing to his well connected was like tick tock, Google, or Facebook, so that when we help our insurance partners or business partners launch their product, and then we can push the content and a product in different ways through different social medias. And actually, when we start to think about tick tock, because tick tock became a big topic in Southeast Asia during pandemic did, I guess, it was because, you know, no word that they can people can go and actually, tick tock is very entertaining. So that was why, you know, in 2020, and most of the markets in Southeast Asia, the de au optic talk, almost double epic didn’t really, and we saw that trend. Yeah. And I saw that trend. And then we asked ourselves, given it to entertaining, social media. And insurance companies always say, Okay, I want to acquire the Gen Z, right? And where where you should go, if you want to acquire those Gen z’s. Is that okay? We want to try tick tock, whether that we can treat that as a channel for insurance industry. And then we went to tick tock Asia, they’re headquartered in Singapore and asked, okay, can we do something with you? The answer we received from them was all we’re happy to, but none of the banks, insurance companies or even lending platforms, have done any marketing company wellness. You are the first one. And also, we don’t have any marketing agencies, who is specialized at this. Then we ask, why not we became your marketing agency, and we can do it by ourselves. And that was the story. You know, how we started with tick tock and how that nowadays, we’re helping some of our business partners deploying their go to market campaigns, and their products through social media is like tick tock. Yeah.

Michael Waitze 36:56
You’ve just given me an idea, by the way.

Young Yang 37:01
Yeah, so I mean, that that was, you know, how easy it was for us to get on some new things. But if you ask me whether that’s easy, it’s not easy at all, because at the time after we registered a marketing agency, the first asset that we don’t we didn’t have was people. We cannot find people who have done something on tick tock Henyk. And who know insurance. Right? It took us, it took us quite some time to find the right people. And now I’m happy that this person is still with us. And who is helping, you know, different business partners deploy their their their go to market through different social medias,

Michael Waitze 37:44
I’d love to have a conversation with them as well. It’s just such an interesting way to use that distribution channel, because it’s so new in a way it’s almost I don’t want to say untapped. But I don’t think everybody knows exactly how to do this yet. I’d love to have a conversation with that person to try to figure that out. Can I ask you this as well? And then I’ll let you go. This has been an incredible conversation for me. I’ve taken tons of notes. And I’ve learned a lot actually. Can we get away from this? Can we leave this call without talking a little bit about artificial intelligence?

Young Yang 38:11
Yep, definitely. So I think this has been a very worthy move to popular topic. Yeah. In a world. People are amazed by how powerful a larger language model works. By actually, the fact that it’s not new. No, it’s just right now, through all the chat up to like solutions, it bring this capability to everyone. Right. So it’s like aI modeling as a service. Yeah. Yeah, in a way. But actually, if you look at someone like Tic tock, the data points, and the computing power they use to train their model has been very similar was Chaturvedi, three or four, even four or five years ago? Yeah. Because the huge population of China, right. So from a technology point of view, it’s not new. But what is new is how fast that this could be. Infrastructure or people’s law. Right. Right. And I would say, in order to leverage this insurance company, need to take a long step, or long way. When we keep to the market, we realize that the terminology that people are using day in day out, versus the technology that insurance company was using the gap could be 10 to 20 years, right. And, of course, after that insurance company tried to innovate and digitize some of their solutions, especially the finance, right? And we call that point solutions. So it’s point it’s not a holistic end to end digital solutions that I adopt. Okay? So the good thing is when the Adopt gradually some new technologies. Yeah, that will buy them more longer time to digitize themselves as an organization, but for few the demand from the markets, the customers or partners, right? Yeah. But the challenge is by adopting this their data structure, is there more complicated nowadays? Okay, so the data exchange even within the organization is very complicated. So that bring the challenge to the insurance tree overall, to adopt and really enjoy the benefit. They charge a BT or LLM couldn’t bring to them, because they don’t have a holistic and a standardized data internally, right. So data can flow into the machine or the model and data resulting over time and as part of their business process. So in short, I will say insurance industry is at its early stage, to have the highway first, what technology in order to bring the racing cars, like LM onto it, and let it one? They don’t. They don’t have the highway yet. Right. Right. And there are I will say that the benefit for them is nowadays, they have so many options. It’s not only us, because if I look at after almost five years, our market share is single digit is very small. Because this market is very fragmented, very. And nowadays, there are more InsurTech companies coming in. So they have more options. As long as they decided to make a move. They have many more options than before. Even like three years ago, yeah, for sure. Right. So it’s it’s a right time to make a move. And a second is, I think it’s about connectivity. Because previously, quite many insurance companies were so focused on finance, I want to develop a superior app, so that I can acquire customers, I can retain the customer ourselves. So insurance is no longer of business of channel. Right, right. But now, the adoption of our M might change the game a little bit. Because the model is so intelligent that you give it a well prompt and specific purpose. And then the machine can complete that task by calling API’s in the middle. So the outcome of one API call could be the input for the next one. Right? Right. Right. Right. Right. So so it’s, it’s really about connect these. However, in the past a lot of insurance company packaged their API into an app, or some of the tools that they can only use internally. Yeah. So so that means if you really want to leverage, you know, the, the power of LM, you better to break yourself apart into pieces, and the MyKad open to the market nowadays. Right? So that, you know, your customers can maybe get a partnership and solves, but with deep understanding what the product is better in a more personalized way. I was a, I will say even I mean, but there is there’s a long way to go because you need to balance between phonology and compliance and you know, the customer centric. So that’s why I think, even though that we can do so many things, or, you know, outside of China through this LM model, but we are quite prudent and cautious when applying the LM two interest industry at the moment. We want to take step by step start to use such technology to empower the internal staff. But before we can offer this as a service for bringing value to customers.

Michael Waitze 44:06
Young Yang is the CEO of Southeast Asia at ZA Tech. That’s an incredible way to end. I cannot thank you enough for doing this conversation. We have to do more of this. Thank you so much again.

Young Yang 44:17
Thank you very much, Michael.


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